• Belarusian political prisoners are not perceived in the West as a subject where it is possible to achieve something.

  • There are no talks in Germany or in the West in general that it is necessary to somehow negotiate with Lukashenka on the subject of political prisoners.

  • The attitude of the Germans to the war is changing - in favor of Ukraine.

  • President Macron already openly says that the goal should be a military victory for Ukraine.

  • Zahad told Lukashenka: "We understood that you do not want to participate in the war, but we are not sure that you are the person who makes decisions about this."

- One of the hot topics in Belarus in recent weeks has again been the discussion of the steps that can be taken to release political prisoners.

How is this topic discussed in the German press and by German politicians?

- Yes, this topic appeared again in the German public space recently - after a rather long pause.

This is connected, first of all, with the story of Maria Kolesnikova, who is quite well known in Germany.

Then there was the story of Gerosimeni's sentence.

Then the trial began against human rights defenders, including the Nobel laureate Ales Bialiatski.

In this context, the topic of political prisoners became relevant.

However, this is just information that once again shows the current situation in Belarus, which government is in Belarus.

But there is no talk of the need to somehow negotiate with Lukashenka on the topic of political prisoners in Germany or in the West in general.

There are calls that Lukashenka should stop repression and release political prisoners - such statements are made systematically by Western politicians.

Of course, the subject of sanctions against Minsk is raised, the last time the head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, spoke about it the other day.

But in what context?

Sanctions are proposed against Belarus and Iran for helping Russia in its aggression against Ukraine.

These are not sanctions for repression in Belarus.

I would even say that the topic of Belarusian police prisoners is not perceived in the West as a topic where something can and should be done.

To protest - yes, to call - yes.

But to take some concrete steps, to hold talks with Lukashenka about this, there is no such discourse.

— Does the discussion on the topic of political prisoners bring up the experience of the Federal Republic of Germany, which at one time bought political prisoners from the communist GDR?

- No, this is an exclusively Belarusian discussion.

Needless to say, this issue is very controversial and ambiguous, because the GDR simply imprisoned new political prisoners, and their number did not decrease.

And in relation to the current situation in Belarus, it is not discussed at all, the Germans do not see anything in common in these such different situations.

— The information that Belarus was not included in the latest sanctions packages of the European Union due to Ukraine's request was quite loudly discussed.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine denied this, but the European Commission remained silent.

— Yes, there was an official statement by the European Union that the process of discussing sanctions is not public, and that's all.

There was no discussion as to why new sanctions against Belarus are not being introduced.

But I would not exaggerate this topic at all.

Ukraine can offer or ask for something, but the decision is made in Brussels, by the EU countries.

If they wanted to impose sanctions against Belarus, they would have imposed them.

As I believe, new sanctions against Belarus were not introduced because Minsk did not take any new aggressive steps against Ukraine in the past months.

- How is German policy and public opinion changing in relation to Russia's war against Ukraine?

Are there signs of some kind of "fatigue", which Russian propaganda is hoping for?

- The attitude is indeed changing, but it is changing in a favorable direction for Ukraine.

Russia's hopes that Germany and the West would not be able to withstand the war economically, that a recession would begin, that protests would begin and the authorities would not be able to withstand it, did not come true.

Economic difficulties are present, but they do not have any fatal nature.

As for public opinion, the majority in Germany still supports Ukraine and sanctions.

Of course, there is a difference between West and East Germany.

In the east, there is a more restrained attitude towards sanctions and the supply of arms to Ukraine.

But the majority of Germans still believe that Ukraine should be supported and arms should be supplied to it.

As for politicians, there is a dynamic here.

Such large countries as France are rethinking their position, President Macron already openly says that the goal should be the military victory of Ukraine.

Earlier, he spoke more cautiously.

As for German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, he does not yet speak of military victory as the main goal, but he is more active in the supply of weapons.

Now there is a discussion about the supply of Leopard-2 tanks, and the discussion shows that it is rather a matter of time.

Both a part of the ruling coalition (greens and liberals) and the opposition Christian Democrats support the supply of tanks to Ukraine, so I think Scholz will have to agree.

- How do the West view the possible direct participation of Belarus in the war?

In the event that there is a new offensive from the territory of Belarus, will it matter whether the Belarusian troops participate in it or not?

- I would say that this question - whether Belarus will directly participate in the war - is the central Belarusian question now.

This is perhaps the only topic related to Belarus that is being actively discussed.

And here, any informational occasion, any new meeting with Lukashenka gives rise to a new wave of discussion about whether Belarus will enter the war.

This is very important for Europe, because if Belarus enters the war and hostilities take place, including on the territory of Belarus, or, for example, the western part of Ukraine, it means that the war will come even closer to the borders of the European Union.

It seems to me that the West has understood that Lukashenka himself does not want to fight.

And they signal to him that they understood it.

The British Ministry of Defense declares that it does not yet see any serious preparations for war.

And the West says to Lukashenka: "Yes, we understood that you do not want to participate in the war, but we are not sure that you are the person who makes decisions about this."

Nevertheless, NATO's top circles are discussing a scenario in which there could be an attack from the territory of Belarus.

Although at the moment they consider it unlikely.

If Lukashenka is involved in the war - and it really doesn't matter whether it will be only the Russians, or whether Belarusian troops will also participate in this aggression - then Lukashenka will receive the same harsh sanctions that Russia will receive.

The fact that new sanctions against Minsk have not yet been introduced is logical: it was done in order to make a difference between Lukashenko and Russia.

But this logic seems to me quite shaky.

After all, Lukashenka will participate or not participate in the war regardless of whether new sanctions were adopted against him.

  • Vitaly Tsygankov

    Vitaly Tsygankov graduated from the Faculty of Journalism of BSU.

    One of the two founders of the first non-governmental news agency BelaPAN.

    He worked in the newspapers "Zvyazda", was a correspondent in Belarus of the Russian "Nezavisimaya Gazeta", Associated Press, columnist in the newspaper "Svaboda".

    On Belarusian Freedom since 1994.

    Correspondent of Russian Freedom in Belarus.